The Good, Bad and Ugly from /R/ Relationship Advice

A lot of people turn to Reddit for relationship advice, finding that the anonymous, user-generated info is really relatable and even helpful. In the Reddit interface, posters normally explain a relationship problem that they are having, and other users comment with advice, forums to turn to, or just general support. While some of these comments can be super helpful, there is no guarantee that the commenters have any experience with this specific situation or any experience with relationship counseling in general.

So while R/Relationship Advice can offer some good insight, it’s important to take these suggestions with a grain of salt. In this article, relationship coaches at Relish took a look at some of the top posts on Reddit to see what kind of advice people were giving.

Here is a breakdown of our takeaways from R/Relationship Advice:

The Good

In a brief post, a husband shares that he found out that his wife of ten years and mother to his two children cheated on him multiple times with an ex. He explains that he is confused and hurt, and doesn’t know what he should do, especially considering that they have young children. In the comment thread, a user suggests that he should take some time to himself away from his partner to process things when he is in a less emotional state. The user also suggests that he a) get an STI test and require that his wife do the same b) find a relationship counselor to help them work through their problems if he chooses the path of reconciliation and c) find a divorce attorney so that he understands what ending the marriage would really look like. The commenter stresses that it’s important to take time to process and avoid rash, emotional decision making, especially when children are involved. The commenter also links to R/Surviving Infidelity, a different Reddit thread for people who have had partners cheat on them. This comment gets a “Good” rating for the relationship coaches at Relish. The comment stresses emotional and physical wellbeing by suggesting to take some time apart and by suggesting to get STI checks. The comment also recommends that the poster lean on professionals to help him navigate this very difficult situation. While some people prefer to keep instances of infidelity private, relying on counselors and even seeking legal advice early on can help you cope and make a long term plan.

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The Bad

In another post, someone shares that she and her boyfriend of six years are at an impasse about marriage. Some of their mutual friends are getting married, which prompted the conversation about marriage and it turns out that they are not on the same page. She would like to get married before having children and moving in (something that they both want to do as a couple), but he doesn’t want to get married because of his parent’s failed marriage and how it affected his childhood. In response to this post, the majority of commenters told the poster that she should end the relationship then and there, stating that incompatibility on this matter was irreconcilable. While this is potentially the case, telling someone to end the relationship on the spot is BAD advice. The woman who posted should at least have more discussions with her partner about marriage and try to come to a compromise about it. If they have been together for six years, and want to have a family together, a disagreement about marriage status should not be the end of their previously successful relationship. It’s possible to unpack the reasons why she wants to be married in addition to the reasons he doesn’t want to be married and come to a mutually beneficial agreement. For example, if she is primarily interested in the financial benefits of marriage, some places apply marital tax law to “common-law marriages” if partners live together for a long enough period of time. If he is worried about the marriage going south, the couple can come up with a prenuptial agreement to offer protections in the case of a divorce. There can be creative solutions to make sure that both partners are happy in whatever long term arrangement they reach! Relationship advice that tells you to act rashly or end things on the spot, isn’t good relationship advice. Even if ending the relationship is the right call, it’s important to make a rational plan.

The Ugly

Some R/relationship Advice is good, some is bad, and some is flat-out ugly. Sometimes commenters don’t really give advice, but instead make hurtful comments about how the poster, or their partner are mishandling a situation. A lot of the ugly comments come up in cases of infidelity. In one of the top posts on Reddit, a man shares that he thinks his wife is cheating on him, but is afraid to confront her because she has denied these types of accusations before. While some commenters express their condolences to the poster before offering advice, others go after both him and his wife. Some commenters question why he would trust her if he already had suspicions before, others call him names for considering staying with her, while others insult her, saying she’s not worthy of him and clearly just a cheater. These types of ugly comments can often do more harm than good. It’s hard to judge a situation if you don’t know both sides of the story, or if you don’t know the people personally. These types of comments can lead the people who posted to feel judged instead of supported. While R/Relationship Advice can help people navigate tricky relationship problems, it can also cause some harm because of the unmoderated commenters.

If you are looking at Reddit and see comments like these, try not to read too much into them. The majority of posters are there to help you solve your problems in a judgement free space. A lot of commenters regulate these ugly comments and even regulate bad advice, so be sure to read through all of the threads to get the best possible R/RelationshipAdvice.

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